In a southern town in 1954 India, British and Anglo-Indian identities blur in this psychological tale of misplaced trust, envy and power. The troubled Macintosh household deteriorates further when Lily (Greta Scacchi) gives birth to a sickly baby girl. Cotton Mary (Madhur Jaffrey), an Anglo-Indian hospital worker, seizes the opportunity and takes over the infant's care. She becomes indispensable to the suffering mother and is asked to join the household, where she assumes more and more duties, playing on the mother's fatigue and problems with her husband. How long can Mary sustain her rule before Lily stands on her own feet and regains control?